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AirPods Pro 2 — 5 upgrades we want to see

an image of the AirPods Pro
(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

It's been rather quiet on the AirPods Pro 2 rumor front, but they remain one of our more anticipated Apple products of 2022, alongside the likes of the MacBook Air 2022 and iPhone 14

But with competition so tight in the best wireless earbuds arena, Apple will need to pull something special out of the bag with its next-gen AirPods Pro when they arrive, supposedly towards the end of next year. Plus, the new AirPods 3 already do much of what the AirPods Pro do, minus the noise cancellation. 

So with that in mind, here are the top upgrades we’d like to see from the AirPods Pro 2. 

A new design  

An AirPods Pro 2 concept courtesy of Weibo

(Image credit: Weibo)

With short stems and a neat bud shape, there's nothing wrong with the design of the current AirPods Pro. But that doesn't mean some refinements can’t be made. We’d quite like to see the rumoed more rounded, bullet-like design come to fruition as removing the stems from the buds to make them less conspicuous. 

Removing the stems could potentially impact the controls, but the folks at Cupertino are often very good at coming up with ways to seemingly get more out of less. Even if the stems aren't shortened, there's still some scope to refine the AirPods Pro 2 design, including tweaking the case to have more features like a metal loop for attaching a strap.   

More earbud tips 

Apple AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We’d like to see the AirPods Pro 2 come with more earbud tip options. The AirPods Pro only come with three tip sizes bundled in, which limits just how well they can fit the varied ears of humanity. 

It’s a small ask, but it's one that could further enhance the already impressive wireless earbuds. There's another rumor that the AirPods Pro 2 could come in two different sizes, which would certainly help users find the best fit. 

Improved active noise cancellation  

The AirPods Pro being tested in New York City

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The AirPods Pro offer good active noise cancellation, earning them a place on our best noise-cancelling earbuds list. But they can’t quite compete with the likes of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds or Sony WF-1000XM4

So some improvement here would be much appreciated, especially as people start to venture out in the world more. The best ANC earbuds also come with a transparency mode or adjustable noise filtering that can smartly detect when to disable noise cancellation so you can hear what someone is telling you. We’d like to see the AirPods Pro 2 get an advanced take on this, as hinted at in an Apple patent, potentially harnessing a new chip with improved smart processing. 

Alongside a boost in ANC, we’d like to see refinements made in overall audio quality, perhaps leaning heavier onto the spatial audio support introduced with iOS 14. And the ability to better tune audio settings with custom equalizers would be much appreciated.  

 Built-in fitness and health tracking

AirPods Pro running

(Image credit: Future)

To really stand out from the crowd, we reckon Apple needs to add something unique to the AirPods Pro 2, thereby earning the ‘pro’ moniker in the face of strong competition. And built-in fitness and health tracking features could be the solution. 

We’ve already heard murmurs that the next-gen AirPods Pro could have some form of built-in fitness tracking, perhaps facilitated by infrared sensors, accelerometers or gyroscopes. 

It would also make sense, as a lot of AirPods Pro users wear the earbuds at the gym or when running. Combine that with Apple’s impressive health and fitness tracking features, found in iOS and on the Apple Watch, and the AirPods Pro 2 could be the next must-have accessory for active Apple fans. 

The AIrPods Pro 2 could also offer an alternative way to get health and fitness data without needing to pop an Apple Watch on your wrist. The potential here is certainly tantalizing. 

An improved IPX rating would be icing on the cake. It would build upon the AirPods Pro’s IPX4 certification for water and sweat resistance; after all, the OnePlus Buds Pro (IP55) and Bowers & Wilkins PI5 (IP54) both have better IPX ratings.

AirPods Pro 2 battery life

AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: MacRumors)

It’s an obvious one, but better battery life for the AirPods Pro 2 over the 4.5 hours the AirPods Pro offered would be great. The current AirPods Pro are easily outlasted by a lot of ANC wireless earbuds, so Apple has room for improvement here. 

The AirPods 3 manage to get 6 hours of battery life outside of their case, so we’d hope Apple could at least aim for that with the AirPods Pro 2. 

There’s precious little on the leaks or rumors side around next-gen AirPods Pro battery life. But we’d be amazed if Apple didn't work on improving that, because it has a knack for using new chipsets in its products that are more efficient from generation to generation. 

Should you wait for the AirPods Pro 2?  

The AirPods 3 laid on a concrete surface

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

With all the above potentially in the cards for the AirPods Pro 2, you might ask should you wait for them or get the AirPods Pro now? That’s a difficult question to answer and depends on your current earbuds situation. 

The AirPods Pro are excellent and are often discounted, so if you can spot then for under $200 then they could be worth grabbing. However, if you have a good set of wireless earbuds, we would waiting until later in 2022 to see what Apple has to offer. 

Roland Moore-Colyer is U.K. Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.